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What’s Race Got To Do With It?

How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality


Edited By Bree Picower and Edwin Mayorga

Within critical discussions of school reform, researchers and activists are often of two camps. Some focus their analyses on neoliberal economic agendas, while others center on racial inequality. These analyses often happen in isolation, continuing to divide those concerned with educational justice into «It’s race!» vs. «It’s class!» camps. What’s Race Got To Do With It? brings together these frameworks to investigate the role that race plays in hallmark policies of neoliberal school reforms such as school closings, high-stakes testing, and charter school proliferation. The group of scholar activist authors in this volume were selected because of their cutting-edge racial economic analysis, understanding of corporate reform, and involvement in grassroots social movements. Each author applies a racial economic framework to inform and complicate our analysis of how market-based reforms collectively increase wealth inequality and maintain White supremacy. In accessible language, contributors trace the historical context of a single reform, examine how that reform maintains and expands racial and economic inequality, and share grassroots stories of resistance to these reforms. By analyzing current reforms through this dual lens, those concerned with social justice are better equipped to struggle against this constellation of reforms in ways that unite rather than divide.

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8. edTPA: Doubling Down on Whiteness in Teacher Education



As a system of privilege emerging within a sociopolitical historical context, Whiteness is marked by denial of its hegemony and the inability to engage across difference with deep understanding and respect. In this chapter I argue that the edTPA, a newly mandated teacher candidate assessment, reproduces Whiteness and, thus, is an instrument of White supremacy. That is, as a standard, corporate instrument the edTPA reproduces the dominant narrative of teaching, learning, and knowledge, and silences and excludes others voices and possibilities. Its demands for obedience, the hierarchies that allow it to be imposed, and its presumption of objectivity all work to reproduce the Whiteness institutionalized in our schools and practices.

As an instrument of neoliberal logic, the edTPA is the teacher education equivalent of Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing, and value-added teacher evaluations. Each of these imposes a narrowly quantitative narrative of teaching and learning on schools, students, and teachers. Each eliminates understandings of teaching and learning that acknowledge the social-political context in which education takes place and the rich messy complexity of schools. The narrative of Whiteness is reinforced at the macro and micro levels through many policies, tools, and practices. This chapter focuses on the edTPA as one such tool. I write from inside my lived experience as a teacher educator whose work and purpose was disrupted by the edTPA and who came to understand it as one more manifestation of Whiteness. Those of us committed to educational justice...

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